Brighton, Hove and District Labour Party Executive Committee members, Tracey Hill and Caroline Penn answer your questions on our campaign to save bus services in the city.
You can sign our petition here.
- What services are being cut?
- 21B, 27, 81A, 26, 22 and 24 which run after 6pm on Sundays between September and May (saving £51,000 per annum)
- 74 on school days fromLewes Roadvia Bevendean and Coldean to Patcham (£34,000)
- 52 from the city centre via the Royal Sussex to Ovingdean and Woodingdean (£63,000). Sunday services will continue with the 57. A new contract will operate from Brighton Marina to Ovingdean and Woodingdean, Monday to Saturday. Users will have to change buses either at the marina or on the coast road in Ovingdean
- 81 Monday to Saturday evenings from Old Steine toGoldstoneValley(£43,000)
- 96 on school days from Carden Avenuevia Westdene to BlatchingtonMillSchool(£38,000)
- Why are these services being cut?
These routes are subsidised by Brighton & Hove City Council. Cuts by the Tory government mean local councils have had a reduction in funding.However, it is up to local councils how they implement the cuts and which services they decide to retain. These are Tory cuts, but it’s the Green Party who runs Brighton and Hove council and set the priorities.
- Why does this matter?
Public transport is important because it allows people to live without a car, or at least use it less on our congested streets. It ensures the elderly and people with disabilities keep their freedom and independence. The affected buses serve school and hospital routes.
- So can we afford to keep these services running?
The Green Party are going ahead with new sustainability projects. We think the extra money that has become available could be better spent maintaining public bus services.
- Where could the money come from?
From the £4m council budget underspend from the 2011/12 financial year. Instead of embarking on new costly projects we believe it should be used to protect essential public services like our buses.
- If these services are low usage doesn’t that mean that very few people will be affected by the cuts?
Living outside the city centre without a car means having to rely on buses being available, even at times when not many other people are travelling. Otherwise there is a strong incentive to have a car, and that in turn will drive down bus usage even more. Subsidised services are essential to ensure that the service is comprehensive and the city is properly connected. Older people in outlying areas will be particularly affected on winter evenings.
- I heard that Labour voted for the Green Party budget. So why are you opposing the bus cuts now?
Labour amended the Green Party budget to freeze council tax. All the parties voted for it. The £4m underspend was not predicted at that time.While there was plenty in the Greens’ proposed budget we did not agree with, we accepted the budget in order to ensure that our amendments were passed, which included stopping the proposed doubling of allotment rents and saving the mobile library – a commitment the Greens still haven’t met.
- Labour supported a council tax freeze. Wouldn’t we have enough money for the bus subsidies if the Greens had been able to increase council tax?
Bus subsidy cuts were part of the Greens’ original budget proposal, which included increasing council tax. They would have cut the service anyway even if council tax had gone up.
- If bus subsidies were discussed at the budget in March, why has it come up again now?
In June, the first detailed plan for how the cuts were to be implemented was announced to the public, a week before the meeting at which the decision was made (by a casting vote by the Greens). When it was announced which services were to be cut there was a public outcry.Holes in the service were revealed, e.g. no bus services on Elm Grove or Queens Park Road after 6pm on a Sunday for nine months of the year. Popular school buses were also announced as stopping. A petition supporting the 56 attracted more than 300 signatures in 3 days. Another petition is still running.
- If the decision has been made, is there any point in having a petition?
The council should be made aware of what people think of their actions, and there is always a chance that the decision could be reversed. Even if this does not happen, at least they will know for next time how strongly people feel about the issue.
- What did Labour do in Brighton?
Labour achieved the highest bus usage figures in the UK by building bus lanes, installing ‘real time’ bus information at stops and, in partnership with the bus operators, rolled out accessible bus stops for wheel-chair users and children’s buggies. In turn the bus operator provided low emission vehicles and frequent services. That’s why we think they are worth protecting.Labour Party Shadow Minister for Transport, Maria Eagle MP, has warned that in other areas, that do not have such a good partnership with bus operators, bus deregulation has failed. Labour will be looking at a way of making transport more affordable and better integrated in a forthcoming policy review. This would include “London style” powers to set bus routes and fares
- What can I do?
Sign our petition to protect services at: http://present.brighton-hove.gov.uk/mgEPetitionDisplay.aspx?ID=331&RPID=5529198&HPID=5529198
June 01, 2013
May 29, 2013